The Guardian (2006)

The Guardian is a blockbuster action movie. It stars Kevin Costner, and Ashton Kutcher. It focuses on the rescue swimmers of the US Coast Guard; these are the courageous folks that jump out of a helicopter with flippers on to rescue you when your ship sinks.

I'll admit that I was prejudiced by other critics who said that The Guardian was merely a remake of An Officer and a Gentleman, and Costner was not as good as Lou Gossett, Jr. Still, the coming attraction looked good, so I decided to watch this lengthy 2:19 film. I'm very glad I did, as The Guardian is much more like the early, formula Tom Cruise films, like The Color of Money, or Days of Thunder. Even though this is a lengthy film, it moved well, and didn't seem like it needed more trimming.

Kevin Costner plays a Ben Randall, Senior Chief Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard. He is as experienced as they come, and lives for the job. Through a series of events, he ends up running the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer School. Enter Ashton Kutcher, who plays Jake "Goldfish" Fischer, the new hot shot student. He's a high school swim champ who endeavors to be the best. Here we have the makings of the master and apprentice relationship. Costner has several "innovative" activities for the new recruits that try to better bridge the gap between the training program, and what the job really demands. There is a definite turning point in their relationship after the bar fight at the Navy's stomping ground. And by the end of this film, the relationship develops even further.

Throughout The Guardian, there was a lot of effort to portray the rescue swimmers accurately. Kutcher spent eight months learning to be a rescue swimmer! They had numerous technical advisors, including former and current rescue swimmers. Scenes were filmed on location at the actual Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer School. They built a wave pool that could produce nine foot waves to portray the Bering Sea (in an ironic twist of fate, it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and had to be rebuilt on another site). The director and actors flew out on a Coast Guard helicopter to gain some first hand experience. Even the extras were Olympic swimmers, and rescue swimmers.

All of this attention to detail really pays off and comes together. Through this crackling realism, we enjoy a great tale of the master and the apprentice. While saving a life isn't exactly a foreign concept in my chosen profession, jumping from a helicopter into a stormy, freezing sea is. These Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers are true heroes, and The Guardian is able to tell their story, through the film. If you're looking for action and adventure, with a great story, then this film delivers the goods.

Overall Grade: A+

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